NATIONAL NEWS - All restrictions on e-commerce in South Africa that have been instituted under Covid-19 lockdown have been lifted as of today, Thursday 14 May.
Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel issued a directive today allowing for online trading in all goods, except for tobacco products and liquor.
George Business Chamber President Dr Dennis Farrell welcomed the move, saying: "It is a very positive opportunity which I believe all retail and services organisations should use to reposition their offering through digital channels. It creates opportunities for the support services around this industry, such as packaging and courier services, and is an ideal collaboration for establishment of SMMEs to deliver on."
According to the directions, retailers must provide for as many payment options as possible to help reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. These options must also enable poorer consumers to access delivery services.
South African made products should also be promoted "in order to limit the social and economic hardship caused by the pandemic on local industries".
Health and safety protocols
Retailers, couriers or delivery services and customers must also put in place appropriate health and safety protocols to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread.
- When packaging goods, retailers must provide written guidelines for customers on how to safely disinfect their goods before use.
- All goods must be sanitised, in line with the guidelines published by the National Department of Health, before leaving the warehouse or depot.
- Retailers must put in place collection protocols to ensure that adequate social distancing is maintained by courier or delivery service personnel when collecting goods from a warehouse or depot.
The latter entails the following, among others:
- All courier and delivery personnel must have their own hand sanitiser and disinfectant wipes, which must be refilled daily.
- Courier and delivery personnel must wear a cloth face mask that covers the nose and mouth when delivering goods to customers.
- Courier and delivery personnel must maintain at least one and a half metres distance from other courier or delivery personnel when collecting goods for delivery; and from customers when delivering goods.
- Courier and delivery service personnel may not enter the home of a customer if such a customer and any other residents within the immediate vicinity are not wearing a cloth face mask or a homemade item that covers the nose and mouth.
30 000 small businesses make use of e-commerce
Western Cape Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, in a media release said it's a step towards the opening of the economy, which will save businesses, jobs and the provincial economy. Up to 30 000 small businesses make use of some of the larger e-commerce trading platforms to sell their products.
"Not only is this decision good for business, but it is also good for consumers, who can now safely buy what they want, when they want it. Since the announcement of national government's Covid-19 Risk Adjusted Strategy, we have called for the expansion of the e-commerce sector as it is undeniably one of the safest ways for our economy to open during the Covid-19 crisis," said Maynier.
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